Pantelis leaves to join Phoenix

Adelaide United FC has agreed to terminate veteran midfielder Lucas Pantelis’ contract, allowing him to join the Wellington Phoenix on a two year deal.

Adelaide United FC has agreed to terminate veteran midfielder Lucas Pantelis- contract, allowing him to join the Wellington Phoenix on a two year deal.

Pantelis still had a season to run on his contract with the Reds, but the 29 year old revealed his intentions to further his with the Phoenix, a request that Reds Head Coach Rini Coolen was willing to grant.

“Lucas has been a special player for us, he has spent a long time at the club and in my opinion he was a professional from the first day to the last day he was with us,” Coolen said.

“I couldn-t give him the guarantees to be in the starting eleven for sure, which is the same for every player. He respected that and it-s comfortable if you can talk in that way, so we had to think about what-s best for Lucas, which is what he deserves, and then there came a chance for him to play somewhere else.”

“I want to thank him for everything he did for us, he-s a very good person and the way he did it last season, even knowing that everything for him was not easy, but he still went on, so that-s the respect that I have of him.”

Pantelis will pack up and relocate across the Tasman with his wife and young son as he tries to cement a place in Wellington-s line up next season, the decision to move one he admits was extremely difficult to make.

“This was one of the hardest decisions I-ve ever made. I did think about staying and there are no guarantees wherever you go…but it-s just an opportunity,” Pantelis said.

“I was talking to Rini over the past few months and also during last season, and it kind of made it clear that maybe it was time. I-ve been here for six fantastic years and it is my home state, I was born and bred here, so it-s a new challenge, a new opportunity and I decided to take it up.”

Pantelis was the last original member from Adelaide-s inaugural Hyundai A-League squad in 2005 still at the club, but he will now farewell the Reds after 129 appearances and 15 goals in all competitions, a tally that included 101 games and 14 goals in the Hyundai A-League.

After undergoing a knee reconstruction which ruled him out of United-s 2006/07 campaign, highlights of Pantelis- time at the Reds saw him finish as the club-s equal highest goal scorer for the 2007/08 season, while he also led the club-s scoring in 2009/10.

Despite not seeing out his contract, Pantelis is adamant he leaves on the best of terms with Coolen and the club, and takes many fond memories away from his time at United.

“I-m not the type of person to really go out on a sour note. I like to end things on a positive basis and I think that-s what happening at this stage,” Pantelis said.

“Probably the hardest thing is leaving the fans and supporters of Adelaide. Not only have they been great to me, but great to the club. I think Adelaide supporters are some of the best in the country, but now it-s a new football opportunity and a new lifestyle opportunity.”

Coolen and the club will continue the search for another two, or possibly three players, with central defenders and another midfielder high on the agenda.

Pantelis will depart for Wellington on June 7.